on Zechariah 12 :4
I will smite every horse - Some apply this to the wars of the Maccabees with the Syrians; but it is more likely to be a prophecy not yet accomplished. The terms are too strong for such petty and evanescent victories as those of the Maccabees.
on Zechariah 12 :4
Koster further refers to Zechariah 1:4, Zechariah 1:17; Zechariah 3:5, Zechariah 3:9 and, on the other hand, to Zechariah 9:9-10, Zechariah 9:13, Zechariah 9:15; Zechariah 10:11; Zechariah 11:2, Zechariah 11:7, Zechariah 11:9, Zechariah 11:17; Zechariah 12:10; Zechariah 14:4, Zechariah 14:8.
With one considerable exception , those who would sever the six last chapters from Zechariah, are now at one in placing them before the captivity. Yet, Zechariah here too speaks of the captivity as past. Adopting the imagery of Isaiah, who foretells the delivery from the captivity as an opening of a prison, he says, in the name of God, "By the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water" Zechariah 9:11. Again, "The Lord of hosts hath visited His flock, the house of Judah. I will have mercy upon them (Judah and Joseph) and they shall be as though I had not cast them off" Zechariah 10:3-5. The mention of the mourning of all the "families that remain" Zechariah 12:14 implies a previous carrying away. Yet more; Zechariah took his imagery of the future restoration of Jerusalem, from its condition in his own time. "It shall be lifted up and inhabited in its place from Benjamin's gate unto the place of the first gate, unto the corner-gate, and from the tower of Hananeel unto the king's winepresses" Zechariah 14:10. "The gate of Benjamin" is doubtless "the gate of Ephraim," since the road to Ephraim lay through Benjamin; but the gate of Ephraim existed in Nehemiah's time Nehemiah 8:16; Nehemiah 12:39, yet was not then repaired, as neither was the tower of Hananeel Nehemiah 3:1, having been left, doubtless, at the destruction of Jerusalem, being useless for defense, when the wall was broken down. So at the second invasion the Romans left the three impregnable towers, of Hippicus, Phasaelus, and Mariamne, as monuments of the greatness of the city which they had destroyed. Benjamin's gate, the corner gate, the tower of Hananeel, were still standing; "the king's winepresses" were naturally uninjured, since there was no use in injuring them; but "the first gate" was destroyed, since not itself but "the place" of it is mentioned.
The prophecy of the victory over the Greeks fits in with times when Assyria or Chaldaea were no longer the instruments of God in the chastisement of His people. The notion that the prophet incited the few Hebrew slaves, sold into Greece, to rebel against their masters, is so absurd, that one wonders that any one could have ventured to forge it and put it upon a Hebrew prophet .
Since, moreover, all now, who sever the six last chapters from the preceding, also divide these six into two halves, the evidence that the six chapters are from one author is a separate ground against their theory. Yet, not only are they connected by the imagery of the people as the flock of God Zechariah 9:16; Zechariah 10:3, whom God committed to the hand of the Good Shepherd Zechariah 11:4-14, and on their rejecting Him, gave them over to an evil shepherd Zechariah 11:15-17; but the Good Shepherd is One with God Zechariah 11:7-12; Zechariah 13:7. The poor of the flock, who would hold to the Shepherd, are designated by a corresponding word.
A writer has been at pains to show that two different conditions of things are foretold in the two prophecies. Granted. The first, we believe, has its foreground in the deliverance during the conquests of Alexander, and under the Maccabees, and leads on to the rejection of the true Shepherd and God's visitation on the false. The later relates to a later repentance and later visitation of God, in part yet future. By what law is a prophet bound down to speak of one future only?
For those who criticize the prophets, resolve all prophecy into mere "anticipation" of what might, or might not be, denying to them all certain knowledge of any future, it is but speaking plainly, when they imagine the author of the three last chapters to have "anticipated" that God would interpose miraculously to deliver Jerusalem, then, when it was destroyed. It would have been in direct contradiction to Jeremiah, who for 39 years in one unbroken dirge predicted the evil which should come upon Jerusalem. The prophecy, had it preceded the destruction of Jerusalem, could not have been earlier than the reign of the wretched Jehoiakim, since the mourning for the death of Josiah is spoken of as a proverbial sorrow of the past. This invented prophet then would have been one of the false prophets, who contradicted Jeremiah, prophesying good, while Jeremiah prophesied evil; who encouraged Zedekiah in his perjury, the punishment whereof Ezekiel solemnly denounced Ezekiel 13:10-19, prophesying his captivity in Babylon as its penalty; he would have been one of those, of whom Jeremiah said that they spake lies Jeremiah 14:14; Jeremiah 23:22; Jeremiah 27:15; Jeremiah 28:15; Jeremiah 29:8-9 in the name of the Lord. It was not "anticipation" on either side.
It was the statement of those who spoke more certainly than we could say, "the sun will rise tomorrow." They were the direct contradictories of one another. The false prophets said, "the Lord hath said, Ye shall have peace" Jeremiah 8:11; Jeremiah 23:17; the true, "they have said, 'Peace, peace,' when there is no peace" Ezekiel 13:2-10; the false said, "sword and famine shall not be in the land" Jeremiah 14:15; the true "By sword and famine shall their prophets be consumed;" the false said, "ye shall not serve the king of Babylon; thus saith the Lord, even so will I break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, from the neck of all nations within the space of two full years" Jeremiah 27:9-14; Jeremiah 28:11; the true, "Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Now have I given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant, and all nations shall serve him, and his son and his son's son" Jeremiah 27:4, Jeremiah 27:6-7. The false said, "I will bring again to this place Jeconiah, with all the captives of Judah, that went into Babylon, for I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon" Jeremiah 28:4; the true, "I will cast thee out and the mother that bare thee, into another country, where ye were not born, and there ye shall die. But to the land, whereunto they desire to return, thither they shall not return" Jeremiah 22:26-27. The false said; "The vessels of the Lord's house shall now shortly be brought again from Babylon" Jeremiah 27:16; the true "the residue of the vessels that remain in this city, - they shall be carried to Babylon" Jeremiah 27:19-22.
If the writer of the three last chapters had lived just before the destruction of Jerusalem in those last reigns, he would have been a political fanatic, one of those who, by encouraging rebellion against Nebuchadnezzar, brought on the destruction of the city, and, in the name of God, told lies against God. "That which is most peculiar in this prophet," says one , "is the uncommon high and pious hope of the deliverance of Jerusalem and Judah, notwithstanding all visible greatest dangers and threatenings. At a time when Jeremiah, in the walls of the capital, already despairs of any possibility of a successful resistance to the Chaldees and exhorts to tranquility, this prophet still looks all these dangers straight in the face with swelling spirit and divine confidence, holds, with unbowed spirit, firm to the like promises of older prophets, as Isaiah 29, and anticipates that, from that very moment when the blind fury of the destroyers would discharge itself on the sanctuary, a wondrous might would crush them in pieces, and that this must be the beginning of the Messianic weal within and without."
Zechariah 14 is to this writer a modification of those anticipations. In other words there was a greater human probability, that Jeremiah's prophecies, not his, would be fulfilled: yet, he cannot give up his sanguineness, though his hopes had now become fanatic. This writer says on Zechariah 14 , "This piece cannot have been written until somewhat later, when facts made it more and more improbable, that Jerusalem would not any how be conquered, and treated as a conquered city by coarse foes. Yet, then too, this prophet could not yet part with the anticipations of older prophets and those which he had himself at an earlier time expressed: so boldly, amid the most visible danger, he holds firm to the old anticipation, after that the great deliverance of Jerusalem in Sennacherib's time Isaiah 37 appeared to justify the most fanatic hopes for the future, (compare Psalm 59). And so now the prospect moulds itself to him thus, as if Jerusalem must indeed actually endure the horrors of the conquest, but that then, when the work of the conquerors was half-completed, the great deliverance, already suggested in that former piece, would come, and so the Sanctuary would, notwithstanding, be wonderfully preserved, the better Messianic time would notwithstanding still so come."
It must be a marvelous fascination, which the old prophets exercise over the human mind, that one who can so write should trouble himself about them. It is such an intense paradox, that the writing of one convicted by the event of uttering falsehood in the name of God, incorrigible even by the thickening tokens of God's displeasure, should have been inserted among the Hebrew prophets, in times not far removed from those whose events convicted him, that one wonders that anyone should have invented it, still more that any should have believed in it. Great indeed is "the credulity of the incredulous."
And yet, this paradox is essential to the theories of the modern school which would place these chapters before the captivity. English writers, who thought themselves compelled to ascribe these chapters to Jeremiah, had an escape, because they did not bind down prophecy to immediate events. Newcome's criticism was the conjectural criticism of his day; i. e. bad, cutting knots instead of loosing them. But his faith, that God's word is true, was entire. Since the prophecy, placed at the time where he placed it, had no immediate fulfillment, he supposed it, in common with those who believe it to have been written by Zechariah, to relate to a later period. That German school, with whom it is an axiom, "that all definite prophecy relates to an immediate future," had no choice but to place it just before the destruction of the temple by the Chaldees, or its profanation by Antiochus Epiphanes; and those who placed it before the Captivity, had no choice, except to believe, that it related to events, by which it was falsified.
Nearly half a century has passed, since a leading writer of this school said , "One must own, that the division of opinions as to the real author of this section and his time, as also the attempts to appropriate single oracles of this portion to different periods, leave the result of criticism simply "negative;" whereas on the other hand, the view itself, since it is not yet carried through exegetically, lacks the completion of its proof. It is not till criticism becomes "positive," and evidences its truth in the explanation of details, that it attains its completion; which is not, in truth, always possible." Hitzig did what he could, "to help to promote the attainment of this end according to his ability." But although the more popular theory has of late been that these chapters are to be placed before the captivity, the one portion somewhere in the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, or Hezekiah; the other, as marked in the chapters themselves, after the death of Josiah; there have not been wanting critics of equal repute, who place them in the time of Antiochus Epiphanes. Yet, criticism which reels to and fro in a period of near 500 years, from the earliest of the prophets to a period a century after Malachi, and this on historical and philological grounds, certainly has come to no definite basis, either as to history or philology.
Rather, it has enslaved both to preconceived opinions; and at last, as late a result as any has been, after this weary round, to go back to where it started from, and to suppose these chapters to have been written by the prophet whose name they bear .
It is obvious that there must be some mistake either in the tests applied, or in their application, which admits of a variation of at least 450 years from somewhere in the reign of Uzziah (say 770 b.c.) to "later than 330 b.c."
on Zechariah 12 :4
12:4 I will open mine eyes - I will watch over my people for good. This eye of God open upon his people, is his wise, powerful, gracious providence for them. With blindness - All their warriors in their consults shall have as little of foresight, as a blind man hath of sight.